Philosophy of Mind
Book: 8 questions about the conscious mind
Book: Consciousness, An Introduction
What is philosophy?
o Scientific research provides us with a scientific world view
o Every day world view = manifest world view
o Philosophy: what do you mean your concept X? (X = quark, God, life,
o What is the relation between these world views?
o Just like with conceptual analysis, you ask what someone means by his or her
o But you go a little further: you look at science to tell us a bit more about these
The science of validity
o In science you use all kinds of concepts, like the concept of causality
o Usually you do use the concept without asking questions about that concept
o But are these concepts valid? (e.g.: is the concept ‘causality’ a valid concept?)
o In Dutch high schools philosophy is presented as a training in changing your
o Changing your view due to others arguments about the concept
Search for the truth
o In ancient Greece there were teachers that could teach you techniques to win
o They were not concerned with truth, but with winning (like lawyers)
o Socrates argued against this practice
All of the above
o These might not be all the answers
o Maybe philosophy is all of this: we want to know what we mean by our
concepts, we want them to be valid, and to find this out we sometimes need to
change perspectives, in order to clarify them
What is philosophy not?
Philosophy is not just chatting that you could do fact-free
Philosophy is not scepticism or relativism
Why philosophy for psychologists?
You could say that the long sentence a few slides back could be summarized as:
Philosophy is critical thinking
As an academic you learn to think critically about your own field of study – in my
Thinking critically about
How should I act? Am I allowed to use hypnosis to have a patient recall his repressed
These are ethical questions
These questions will be discussed in another course
Such questions are related to other critical questions like: Wait a minute, do
repressed memories exist at all? Is this scientifically supported?
What is mind/a psyche? What is consciousness? How does consciousness fit in the
The hard problem
The problem of consciousness is not that easy
People have dualist intuitions – i.e. they have the intuition that minds and body are
two entirely different things that can exist and function is separation of each other
But if you feel something, then something happens in your brain, and in many cases
also the other way round
How do we know how the brain can process experiences
We will be thinking about consciousness
What is consciousness?
Who is conscious?
How does the mind fit in the physical world?
What is the conscious mind?
Chapter 1 What is the conscious mind? Initial classification
o Nagel: what-it-is-likeness
o It is something it is like to be a bet
o Experiences of taste, colour, etc.
o Qualia (singular: quale)
Conscious experiences, “what does it mean to experience blue?”
o Propositional attitudes (PA’s)
o These are stances towards a proposition
The meaning of a sentence
o John believes that it’s raining
It’s raining: proposition
o Cognitive states have intentionality (aboutness)
His believe is about the rain (it’s about something, has a particular
o PA’s are discrete entities
Attitudes can change, but with one change, the rest doesn’t change
o Have both a qualitative character, and intentionality
o E.g. being angry: it is something it feels like to be mad at a bad driver
Quale: being angry
About: bad driver
The general problem
How does the conscious mind fit in the physical world?
3 initial categories
o How do conscious experiences fit in the physical world?
o How does cognition fit in the physical world?
o How do emotions fit in the physical world?
Reduce 3 to 2 problems
How do qualia fit in the physical world?
How does intentionality fit in the physical world?
The mind and the body are independent of each other
The physical world is dependent on the mental world
The mind is behaviour
Mental states are certain brain states
There’s no mind
Mental states are realized by brain states
Mental states are states in a neural network
Embodies & Embedded (& even Extended) mind
There’s more to mind than brain
Taking the mind seriously
o Experiences like tasting coffee, having thoughts about a city and feeling
o Together, they form the conscious mind
Doubting is a mental state
A preliminary characterization of the conscious mind
Qualitative difference: how good one coffee tastes in difference from the other
o Establishing difference: tasting
o Drinking both coffee’s results in an experience of tasting coffee, there is a
difference between those two experiences:
Difference in quality
Qualia: qualitative aspects of experiences (singular, quale)
o What-it-is-likeness: when our senses are stimulated we have all kinds of
o Used to describe phenomenal experiences
o They are characterized by their qualitative feel
o Phenomenal: how something feels, how something appears to use, how
something is experiences
Qualia are the qualitative aspects of phenomenal experiences
o Characterized by saying that they possess intentionality
Property of being about something, aboutness
Thought about a friend in Amsterdam is about that friend